Tuesday, March 1, 2011

In Daylight and Nighttime

He could use a HOT HOTEL all his own.
No distractions here. It took him all night
to do what little he had to show
Adore. He found this little place to eat
hominy grits prepared the way he liked
beside his usual eggs over easy.
He knew he should go by and see Big John
so he could tell Rocky he had done so,
but too early for coming down so fast
he sat drinking chicory and thinking
he should go see Ray to tell him the night
went well at The Saloon, but that could wait.
Or maybe he should get his ashes hauled . . .
He had no stomach for a whorehouse run,
Paolo could have his part of the action.
Back in HOT HOTEL he read it over,
made a few changes, and put it aside,
started writing something he knew was her.
But kept coming back to what he had here
already. He couldn’t stop tinkering.
Later he’d show Adore what he had done,
She’d tell him straight out if he’d done it well.

Then slept, woke just in time to get to work.
Ray was waiting until he came to leave,
said there would be more tourists tonight,
did he think he could handle it himself . . .
The kid came by and said Adore was gone
when he knocked on her door. He didn’t go
inside. He knew better. There would be hell
to pay if that happened, she would wake up
and see him there and that would be the end
for him on the day bed. The kid complained
and Juan asked him if her walker was there,
the kid said he didn’t know, he’d go back
and check. The tourists started arriving
and throwing them back, asking for a drink
to replace the one they had before it
was gone. The men got more belligerent,
the women sloppier, the more they drank.
He’d never had to cut anyone off
till now, but the time was here and he had
to do it twice. When the hour came around
he was glad to hear the kid say Adore
had just gone for a walk in the alley.

Juan said he would look in on her tonight.
He gathered his papers in HOT HOTEL
and went the back way, was in a hurry
to see her, have her read and let him know
what she thought. He was walking a dark street.
A good way to get mugged, he better watch
his step. That was why many folks kept out
of The Big Easy, they would know someone
who’d had a knife held to their throat and robbed,
or felt a gun barrel against their ribs,
had to lie face down while they lost it all
–and in every case they cut their time short,
returned home, where they would be waited on
like the royalty they were in their homes,
the butler bowing, the maid curtseying,
or so they saw the slightest deference . . .
He walked by the bar where the voices vied
with the music to be heard. He stopped in
to ask the bartender to keep it down,
his family wanted to sleep down where
he gestured, leaving only when order
was restored, glad to be back with Adore.

She sat up in bed in her kimono
and beckoned him to come to bed with her.
I have got something for you to read first.
Handed it over. Didn’t oh and ahh
reading it slowly, letting it surprise her
and make her sigh with a hmm or an eye
suddenly looking up at him and then
just as quickly returning to the page.
She took a long time to read it. Then read
again, out loud but more under her breath
than to him. She said, Where did you get this?
I didn’t tell you this, why did you make
me do what you had no way to know?
This is how I sound when I think of it.
You learn good, Juan. But I don’t understand
everything, at least not how you did this
so I can see myself back there again . . .
It wasn’t all praise. She didn’t go back
to be loved two times during the same night.
He confessed he was trying to make it
seem like she had to have it all her way . . .
She held out both arms: Come give me sugar!

(1 March 2011)

copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander

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